Egyptian polls “very close to international standards”, despite initial reservations

Seal of the EMMPE.
(Source: EACPE)

Despite the previous reservations, the first round of the Egyptian presidential elections held last week “can be described as fair and very close to conforming to international standards of transparency,” according to a broad alliance of civil society organizations and individuals that observed the polls, reported the Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement (EACPE), national focal point of Social Watch in that Arab country.

The Egyptian Mission for the Observation of Presidential Elections remarked that its members have not “witnessed flagrant violations that could affect the final results.”

The closing statement of the Mission reads as follows:

Egyptians hold first democratic elections after the glorious January 25th revolution

In the first presidential elections establishing after the glorious January 25th revolution, Egyptians, over two days, and for the first time in our modern history, recorded a wide-scale participation in an electoral process that can be labeled as democratic.

Several political forces and democratic bodies had voiced reservations about holding the elections before drafting a consensual constitution that clearly identifies the powers of the upcoming president, separates the main branches of power, and illustrates the shape and nature of the political system Egyptians would approve for the next period. However, those reservations have not impeded building for the first democratic elections for the first president after the revolution.

Formed by nearly 26 human rights organizations, as well as 150 public figures including parliamentarians, law experts, trade unionists, intellectuals and political activists, the Egyptian mission has managed to depict details of the electoral process over two days in various Egyptian provinces. It provides the local and international public opinion with its own account of the event and the results of its participation in monitoring the performance of different parties to the electoral process as shown below:

The Presidential Elections Commission

Disregarding the commission's stance which can be described as restrictive to civil society's right to monitor all phases of elections --as stipulated in the law, the constitution, and the verdicts issued by the Supreme Administrative Court--, we objectively hail the strenuous efforts it exerted in organizing the electoral process of the two voting days which was very close to conforming to international standards of transparency.

The state, the administrative and executive authorities

The state, represented in the ruling military council and the Ministry of Interior, has played a significant and decisive role in securing the electoral process; confronting attempts to practice thuggery and violence by some candidates' supporters; thus making the voting days pass peacefully in spite of the security void and state of chaos the country has been witnessing.

Forgery and serious breaches

Both of the two voting days had seen several violations by most of the candidates' backers and campaign managers. Those included practicing propaganda during the electoral silence period, lobbying and influencing voters, buying votes (especially on the second day) and sectarian-based propaganda. There have also been instances of interference by some polling managers for the favor of certain runners.

The breaches, however, did not amount to flagrant forgery, ballot rigging, or manipulation of results. It has not been recorded that supporters of any specific candidate had been blocked from polling stations.

Most importantly, the majority of candidates committed the breaches at their areas of influence. Therefore, the violations, which varied in their degree based on the leverage of each nominee, were not limited to a certain candidate, and did not also seem to be systematic across the republic.

Voters’ participation (women in particular)

Voting turnout varied over the two days, ranging  between a minimum of 30% and a maximum of 50% of the total of eligible voters, recording an average of 45%: a very reasonable rate given that the design of polling stations does not admit more than 60% of registered voters over the two days. Women's attendance at the polls was remarkably high, and there was also a high turnout by the youth of both genders.

Violence and Election Brokers

Actions of violence and thuggery receded largely, with merely some frictions between supporters of Mohamed Morsy and Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh, and sometimes between backers of Ahmed Shafiq and Amr Moussa. As for vote buying, it occurred on a smaller scale comparing to earlier presidential polls, though vote brokers are still existing in some parts of the country, targeting necessitous women in particular.


The most common violation was the enormous rate of spending which was way beyond the official limit. Having the lion's share in that respect was disqualified candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, Islamist runners Mohamed Morsy and Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh, and also Ahmed Shafiq and Amr Moussa; all undermining the possibility of securing equal chances for all runners.

People with special needs

Though representing a considerable portion of the population (12%, or  approximately 10 million), special-needs voters are not given enough attention from the authorities and election administrators. No special arrangements are made to help those cast their ballots, which prompted many to not to vote, either for indifference or inability.

The most important conclusions made by the mission :

Based on the aforementioned remarks, the mission believes that the breaches, though very common, were mainly made by candidates, as well as election administrators to a much lesser degree.

A good job has been done in securing the electoral process and voters.
In general, the elections commission's performance was fairly good and represents a real shift towards a better administration and system of organization, in spite of the deficiencies which we hope will not exist in the future.

Lastly, we believe that the processes of the two voting days are agreeable. and can be described as fair and very close to conforming to international standards of transparency, since it had not witnessed flagrant violations that could affect final results. That makes us hope that the future will be carrying a great opportunity for Egyptians to enjoy democracy and establish the state of law and rights, which had been the goal of the January revolution.

The Egyptian Mission for the Observation of Presidential Elections
Cairo, 26th May, 201

More information
Election monitoring hindered by restrictions: